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  • Archive for August, 2013

    Happy 130th Quagga Day – Maybe more extinct than we thought

    By Jack Ashby, on 12 August 2013

    130 years ago today, 12th August 1883, the last ever quagga died.

    As custodians of one of the only quagga skeletons in existence, we consider it our responsibility to commemorate the tragic passing of this, the least stripy of the zebras.

    Given that we have marked quagga day annually, what can I tell you that regulars wont already know? Potentially, quite a lot – things that I’ve only found out today as I write. Before I get to that, for those who don’t come pre-quagga’ed:

    • Quaggas were a South African Zebra with a stripy front end and a brown back end.
    • Quagga skeletons are “the rarest skeletons in the world [1].
    • They were driven to extinction due to farmers killing them to stop them grazing the land they wanted for their livestock; and for their unusual pelts.
    • The last individual died in a zoo in Amsterdam, probably years after all of her wild relatives

    This is our quagga:

    Image of the Grant Museum Quagga skeleton

    The Grant Museum quagga

    (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Ninety-Six

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 12 August 2013

    Scary MonkeyFour blogs away from the big 1-0-0! In the run up to the 100th blog I am going to bring to you the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, as voted for by…. me. I have employed strict criteria with which to segregate the top ten from the other 67,990 specimens that we have in our care…

    1) It must not be on permanent display, giving you a little behind-the-scenes magic, if you will, as the specimen will then go on display for the week of which it has been named ‘Specimen’. Oh yes. That’s almost as good as our exhibition It Came From The Stores. Almost.

    2) It must have at some point in the past made me say ‘woooo’ out loud (given my childlike disposition for expressing wonderment at the world at large, this is not necessarily a hard qualification for the specimen to achieve)

    3) I must know (at least in a vague sort of a way) what species the specimen is, as SotW is researched and written within a strict one hour time frame.

    With that in mind, at Number Five, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Petrie Menagerie: The Petting Zoo

    By Edmund Connolly, on 9 August 2013

    Our menagerie has now gained two members which, by most standards, its not very many, so I am now going to throw in 4 more all under one child friendly umbrella: the Petting Zoo.

     

    Petrie Menagerie #3 Domestic (including small and pick-up-able) Animals:

    Thanks to the Nile, Egypt has areas of impressive fertility, granting the locals good crops and a regular cycle of irrigation and growth. In addition to arable produce, livestock were prevalent, including chickens, sheep and donkeys (and associated hybrids).

     

    The Objects(s):

    Given the prevalence of these creatures, it’s not surprising there are many representations of them:

    A leggy pig

    A leggy pig

    (more…)

    And 11 months later

    By Dean W Veall, on 8 August 2013

    Dean Veall here, Learning and Access Officer at the Grant Museum of Zoology. As I pack my panniers and get ready to mount my trusted bicycle for an extended August break back in the rolling hills of the valleys of Wales I thought now would be an apt time to present a reflection on my first 11 months here at UCL and share some insight into the working life at the Grant Museum.

    I started in September 2012, and my only real recollection of that first week was sitting in the Museum in the corner with my back to my new colleagues staring at our green main wall, a wall I came to know intimately over those two weeks in the middle of September we were closed for refurbishment.

    The green green wall of the Grant

    The green green wall of the Grant

    (more…)

    Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards.

    By Edmund Connolly, on 7 August 2013

    Reflecting on the past year for the Cultural Heritage Fellowship I am writing another post cataloguing our two final fellows, Sonia Slim (Tunisia) and Ramdane Kamal (Algeria)[1].

    Sonia is a Chief Architect at the National Institute of Heritage, with an extensive background of work and study in architecture and conservation, and archaeological site management which offered her a very unique and refreshing approach to the concept of community engagement in heritage. Her previous projects included monitoring the site of Dar Rashid and she oversaw the studies for the conversion of the opulent Ksar Said palace to the Museum of Tunisia’s Contemporary History Museum. Sonia has a very firm belief that architects should be of service to society and can help develop spaces to be of more use and appropriated by the public. Coming with such a firm belief in community engagement and services Sonia easily transitioned from the training weeks in the UK to her own project in Tunisia.

    (more…)

    Riding on the crest of a ware

    By Rachael Sparks, on 6 August 2013

    Felixstowe Crested WareI’m quite partial to memorabilia, and I have a passionate interest in the life and work of Flinders Petrie, not just because he’s a an impressively beardy archaeologist and legend, but also because for some years now I’ve been responsible for looking after his collection of Palestinian antiquities at the UCL Institute of Archaeology Collections. So I was quite chuffed when I did a search on Ebay a few years ago, and came across this inspiring item. (more…)

    Specimen of the Week: Week Ninety-Five

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 5 August 2013

    Five blogs away from the big 1-0-0! In the run up to the 100th blog I am going to bring to you the top ten specimens at the Grant Museum, as voted for by…. me. I have employed strict criteria with which to segregate the top ten from the other 67,990 specimens that we have in our care…

    1) It must not be on permanent display, giving you a little behind-the-scenes magic, if you will, as the specimen will then go on display for the week of which it has been named ‘Specimen’. Oh yes. That’s almost as good as our exhibition It Came From The Stores. Almost.

    2) It must have at some point in the past made me say ‘woooo’ out loud (given my childlike disposition for expressing wonderment at the world at large, this is not necessarily a hard qualification for the specimen to achieve)

    3) I must know (at least in a vague sort of a way) what species the specimen is, as SotW is researched and written within a strict one hour time frame.

    With that in mind, at Number Six, this week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)

    Petrie Menagerie: The Lions

    By Edmund Connolly, on 2 August 2013

    Last week our hippo specimen was proudly placed in the menagerie, bobbing along in his lethargic way. Continuing with our wanderings through  the animal objects Petrie brought back to Britain I will look at one of the most notorious and influential exotic animals: the Lion.

     Specimen # 2  Lion:

    I don’t need to describe a lion, we all know them, recognise them and have probably seen one in one form or another.  The lion is sadly extinct in modern Egypt, however Ancient Egypt would have most probably played host to a beast similar to the Barbary lion, a huge species which were hunted to extinction in 1922.

    A lion gaming piece. With rather sticky out ears

    A lion gaming piece. With rather sticky out ears

    (more…)

    How To: Tell Your Heroes From Your Villains

    By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 2 August 2013

    Do you having any burning desires to have something explained by someone on the inside? This blog series is a How To Guide for the museological musings of a Museum Assistant. The third along this (hopefully) long and happy blogging path is…

     

     

     

    How To: Tell Your Heroes From Your Villains

    When I was a child I was watching some gangster film or other with my Dad when he commented to me on how bad guys always drove black Jaguars. From that day on, for quite a while, I couldn’t fathom why the Metropolitan Police didn’t roam the streets of London arresting everyone who drove a black Jaguar. As it turns out, your personal moral code doesn’t have such stringent influence over your choice of vehicle and subsequently it is, in reality, much harder to tell hero from villain. The same is true of Museum goodies and baddies. They come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and with various numbers of legs (they aren’t all human after all). The way I see it, at the Grant Museum there are three main categories of creature that have influence over the state of the Museum; humans, babies, and things that fly. Not that I am insinuating that all babies aren’t human. Some are. (more…)

    Grant Museum Objects on Tour: Lost Labels

    By Mark Carnall, on 1 August 2013

    Lost labels from the Grant Museum.

    Lost labels from the Grant Museum.

    Last week, the exhibition Nature Reserves opened at GV Art, London a group exhibition examining the relationship between how humans interpret and archive the natural environment. Tom Jeffreys, the curator of the show, contacted the Grant Museum to discuss some ideas about how natural history museums archive and organise specimens and these discussions lead to us lending a collection of orphaned labels, that cause me great personal anguish whenever I have to add to this sub collection, to the show.
    (more…)